M&S signals brands re-think

05 November 2009

LONDON: Marks & Spencer is to roll out 400 branded products across all of its 600 or so stores following a successful 16-month trial.

The products; which include top-selling names such as Coca Cola, Heinz, Kellogg and Marmite, will fill gaps in brand-dominated categories where "we could simply never compete," or where no own-label brands exist, according to chairman Sir Stuart Rose.

Announcing better than expected half-year profits of £298.3 million (€202m; £180m) the retailer - which has long pursued a strict own-label-only trading policy - stressed that the volte-face would not lead to any de-listing of M & S products.

"The example I give is Tabasco sauce," he told BBC Breakfast News. "You either have genuine Tabasco or fake Tabasco - which tastes awful."

"Our customers deserve the best and that's what they shall get; without having to shop elsewhere."

Despite the half-year optimism; which he puts down to multi-channel offers, better in-store service and profitable international operations, Sir Stuart added that the company remained cautious about the all-important Christmas trading period and the year ahead.

Data sourced from BBC News; additional content by WARC staff